Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
This is a difficult role to fill! The majority of grandparents raising grandkids that I have worked with had never planned to be primary caregivers of children or teens at their age. Most grandparents have plans to travel, explore hobbies their careers and family never allowed them to pursue and just to relax and enjoy life. And then their adult child “goes off the tracks” leaving their children in the care of the grandparents.
Some complicating factors often include: The missing parent may have raised their children very permissively, which translates into children who do not take care of things, don’t seem to care when they break things, don’t feel rules apply to them and are disrespectful to those who provide care for them.
It is difficult for many grandparents to cope with how much things have changed in our current society; kids have much more power and control in homes than in generations past, speak to their elders in a shocking manner, are free to make their wishes and demands known.
Some patterns that I have observed to be pretty consistent (& there are always exceptions):
The majority of the time, the maternal grandparents take responsibility for the grandchildren.
Often, the missing adult “went off the tracks” due to Domestic Violence, usually at a young age. The victim of Domestic Violence goes into survival mode and suddenly their priorities shift; for many people in this dire predicament self-preservation becomes very important. Substance abuse to cope with the pain and abuse often accompanies Domestic Violence. Many of the children have been exposed to Domestic Violence and/or drug abuse.
Another complicating factor is that often these children and teens have two very conflicting emotions about their missing parent: worried and stressed out if the missing parent is safe, they hold an iron clad loyalty to their missing parent and an intense anger towards the missing parent that they take out on their grandparents.
Because these children and teens have been exposed to so much, counseling can greatly benefit them. They can learn to deal with the conflicting emotions, and often they need counseling to help them deal with the things they have been exposed them to.